Making Records Management a Part of the Solution

By Dave Martin posted 06-28-2013 11:45


Well this will be a bit of a departure for me as I will only be using the word SharePoint a few times, and only in this paragraph.  Recently, my adventures in SharePoint Governance have taken me deep into the dark, windowless, subterranean world of Records Management and I have not only been properly categorized and classified but I’ve realized that these proud but pale people have been plotting all along.  So for this post I will focus explicitly on my recent RM learnings and postulations.

Lately there has been a new exuberance around records management – I know, I never thought I’d see, none the less use, the words “records management” in the same sentence as “exuberance” either – I am not sure if it’s all the fabulous new directives coming out of the U.S. federal space or (what I really hope) that people who want records solutions have figured out a devious new plan on how to get them into their organizations.

We’ve likely all read the article by now, if not the summary is as follows: based on a Gartner study from 2012, CMOs will outpace CIOs in IT spend by 2017.  Since first reading that article I have seen numerous other articles outlining what the CIOs new role will be and, in a nutshell, that role will go from manager of IT to leverager of IT.  The information systems are in place, there is going to be very little new spend on infrastructure, and demands are coming in from the CIO’s constituents to do more with that infrastructure.  CIOs now want “solutions” that integrate with their existing infrastructure and resolve the problems of their constituents. And based on this new development, I think some folks in the records realm have gotten smart.

For example, say the human resources department (a constituent of the CIO) is looking for a better more effective and efficient way to do its job and believes technology can get it there.  Now this group certainly doesn’t understand technology (not really, or at least not yet) but they do know a person who does.  The demand to the CIO from HR will also require the information management of sensitive business and personal content, or records. 

Ah-ha!  A group that isn’t records management that needs a records management solution!

Well… sort of, but here is the spin.

Records folk are getting savvy to the broader IT solution needs and direction of the organization.  They are looking for the people with money and pull within the organization; those true constituents of the CIO.  Add to this that they aren’t pitching records management for records management’s sake, they are pitching it as part of a broader solution, perhaps as part of an information governance, or information management initiative like the HR example above.  So now when the request hits the CIO they see that someone is asking for a new solution, that resolves a focused pain of one of their constituents, which triggers a review of what of the existing infrastructure can be leveraged. If the records “element” of the solution cannot be fully satisfied by what’s in place, then someone will have to spend to ensure the initiatives requirements can be met. 

Now here is where those supporting the records initiative must be shrewd. They surely can’t pitch their part of the proposed solution as records, or even governance for that matter, to the CIO.  In all my time in records and governance I have learned one immutable law: records (and governance) is a cost center [in the eyes of IT].  With that said, the concept of records has to be pitched with a cost savings value.  Simply, the new HR solution will drive improved efficiencies and productivity (cost savings) and the records element has to do the same.

How do we do that?

Consider looking to the future, and make this a long term play, not a short term fix.  To this thought consider that according to market data the cost to store content will be nearly one hundred times cheaper by 2020.  Now equate this to the fact that an RM repository is for “long term preservation” of content and with the RM process content will be shuttled off to a tier three storage environment for example, which will cost one fifth that of tier one where the content currently lives.  Also, understand that in the same timeframe where storage costs are decreasing, that the cost to actually manage content will double, then relate that if this content is connected to a content governance lifecycle (where part of that lifecycle is content being managed as a record) then outline the cost savings attributable to having a streamlined management process in place that accounts for the entire lifecycle of any content coming into the organization from the moment it arrives.  With just those two concepts the records group has not only integrated their technology demands into the broader solution and organization, but they have also provided a vision that the CIO can embrace… and maybe even take credit for.


#InformationGovernance #governance #costsavings #Records-Management #ElectronicRecordsManagement #CIO #SharePoint


07-05-2013 14:49

A marketing guy yes, but to be a marketing guy who understands records you need to have worked with folks who REALLY understand records and I have worked (and currently work) with the best there is. I've been part of a decade's worth of discussions and [maybe not] surprisingly I have a lively exuberance for records.
If it makes you feel better I really am seeing RMs get a better seat at the table alongside the IT and execs. I think people are starting to see that records isn't just an "option" for an information management solution, it is really the control center. In my mind selling an information management solution without records/retention management would be like selling a car without a steering wheel. Sure you could get it, and even start the engine, fill the trunk with stuff and pack the kids in... but you aren't going anywhere.

07-05-2013 14:08

Dave: Thanks so much for this blog! You've struck at the heart of thoughts and issues that I and my associated RIM practitioners have been wrestling with for a while now. And you probably cannot even imagine my surprise at seeing this from a marketing person of a SharePoint oriented technology vendor. Well done!
You’ve captured the essence of what I think many of us who do RIM every day have been thinking (note: I use “RIM” rather than “RM”, and I’ll be glad to drop the “R” as soon as our profession is able to get our customers, stakeholders and top execs. to recognize us by IM or IG.) I’ll comment and elaborate a bit from our perspective on a few of the key points you make:
1. “Exuberance”: Yes, we do have it lately; but often it is being mistaken for something else – i.e., being too pushy for more compliance, or a self-serving attempt to rise out of the (paper) records storage warehouse and intrude upon the domains of IT and Line of Business (LOB)/operational functions. I think we are excited about the Managing Federal Records Directive (at least about the underlying intent/spirit of it, if not some of the specifics). But if you are thinking that it is the LOB or CIO/IT “people who want records solutions” and who have “figured out a devious plan” to accomplish this, I don’t think so. From where I sit, it still feels like we’re trying to push that rock up the hill and usually being beaten being back down.
2. With above said, however, I too am encouraged with some signs that both LOB and IT managers are starting to get RIM/IG. I also agree that anything approaching full records management functionality in systems will only happen when LOB managers demand it from their CIOs. Your example of an HR organization’s concerns for improved management of their sensitive personal content is good one to illustrate how business needs must drive IM considerations which in turn will drive IT providers. However, I’m not sure when we will actually see this happening in most large organizations (Private and Public sectors); but maybe the Gartner timeline of now through 2017 for CMOs to outpace CIOs gives us an idea. I’d say we may see some real adoption toward the end of this period.
3. “A group that isn’t records management that needs a records management solution!” I hope you’re right that RIM folk are getting savvy to how to leverage this use of “those true constituents of the CIO” to achieve this broader need/direction of the organization. This is probably our single greatest challenge as a profession – i.e. to understand and adapt to this new role. As you say, we have to stop pitching RM for RM’s sake and become part of (or leaders of) the broader information management/information governance movement. I call it a “movement” because we’re only just beginning to get some meaningful discussion going on these concepts; and we have a long way to go. It is in fact “a long term play, not a short term fix”. You've given us some good concepts and data points to use in advancing this (e.g., declining costs to store/preserve data v. increasing costs to manage data over its lifecycle).
Thanks, again, for your insights!